Cable management is the mythical hydra of automation problems. For every edge case that is chopped off and solved, a new one appears to bite you. Dress pack management for collaborative robots, or “cobots,” has been a recurring problem for several years. The dress pack is the bundle of cables and hoses that connect to the robot’s tool flange. The more the robot moves, the more slack is needed to avoid pulling the dress pack so tightly that it gets damaged or stops the robot. If this extra length is left loose, it risks getting tangled.
Innovations in Automation
In the past two decades, composites have increasingly displaced aluminum as the structural material of choice in the aerospace industry. Previously considered an exotic material confined to high performance military aircraft, composites are now widely used in the civilian sector; the composite airframes of the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 being excellent examples. Although the exceptional strength-to-weight characteristics of composites make them ideal for aerospace components, manufacturing and material handling challenges can make implementation of such materials difficult.
Commercializing new technology is always exciting, especially after years of research and development. SwRI and XYREC have been diligently developing a robot-guided laser coating removal solution for stripping paint and other coatings from aircraft and aerospace components. We are pleased to announce that the Laser Coating Removal Robot (LCR) was recognized by R&D World magazine as one of the 100 most significant innovations of 2020. For those of you who are new to the R&D 100 Awards, they are widely known as the “Oscars of Innovation.”